The UAE Central Bank is currently preparing a ‘fitness test’ to determine the expertise and capability of senior executives in banks and other financial institutions in risk handling. The test is aimed at ensuring that senior bank officers “do have the required technical expertise, including expertise in risk assessment and risk management, which proved essential in the wake of the recent international financial crisis”, Central Bank Governor Sultan bin Nasser Al Suwaidi said in a speech delivered at the third Abu Dhabi Corporate Governance Conference. The speech is posted on the bank’s website. The Central Bank has ordered commercial banks to seek its prior written approval for nominations to boards of directors, he noted. “A sound board of directors governance would require the independence of the board of directors. This includes the absence of subordination of one member to another member, the absence of close family relationships between members and the absence of overlapping interest links,” Al Suwaidi said. “The existence of such links is likely to create dissenting blocs within the board. Soon, this gives rise to disagreements that will leak out to the staff and create alliances to the blocs within the board, thereby undermining the decision-taking process and weakening the institution.” Citing a Central Bank circular, the governor said the position of the bank chairman should be separated from the rest, “in such a way that the chairman chairs board meetings while the board determines the policies and strategies of the bank, and oversees the implementation through well established procedures. Membership of the board should not be combined with the position of the chief executive officer”. He said the appointment of the chief executive officer and managers of departments in the UAE’s national banks is subject to the Central Bank’s approval, which seeks to ensure they have the required qualifications and experiences to assume such responsibilities.